The Senate Judiciary Committee member added that he ‘can’t think of a better person’ than Michelle Childs, a federal judge in his home state of South Carolina.
‘Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America. You know, we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America,’ Graham said on CBS News’ Face The Nation.
Graham’s endorsement could put Childs at the top of Biden’s list, where she already appears to be a frontrunner. It gives the 55-year-old judge an edge of solid bipartisan support with powerful Democratic House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn already making her case to the public.
Biden announced last week that he’d fulfill his campaign promise of the first black female justice just as Justice Stephen Breyer said he would retire. The 83-year-old liberal is the oldest member of the bench.
Republican lawmakers seized on it immediately, accusing the Democrat of playing identity politics. Senator Roger Wicker called Biden’s pledge an ‘affirmative action quota pick’ last week and Senator Susan Collins accused the president of ‘politicizing’ the judicial nomination process on Sunday.
But Graham defended Childs’ credentials and reasserted his long-held belief that presidents are entitled to more freedom when it comes to their nominees.
Graham sung Judge Childs’ praises and reasserted Biden’s right to nominate whatever qualified candidate he wants in a Sunday interview
‘Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs. Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There’s no affirmative action component if you pick her,’ he said.
‘Whether you like it or not, Joe Biden said, “I’m going to pick an African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court.” I believe there are plenty of qualified African American women, conservative and liberal, that could go onto the court.’
Childs, a federal judge in Graham’s home state of South Carolina, has rare bipartisan public support from the Republican senator and House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn
He added, ‘So I don’t concede- I don’t see Michelle Childs as an act of affirmative action. I do see putting a black woman on the court, making the court more like America.’
Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard Durbin signaled on Meet The Press this Sunday that whoever Biden picks could be confirmed as early as April.
He told host Chuck Todd that how fast someone is confirmed would ‘depend on the nominee.’
Asked whether ‘Easter recess, mid-April’ is a good target, he said: ‘By the Amy Coney Barrett test, yes it is.’
In another television interview on ABC, the number two Democrat in the Senate also defended Biden’s decision to appoint a black woman to the bench after a new poll showed Americans are more interested in getting the most qualified person for the job.
‘Recall that it was Ronald Reagan who announced that he was going to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, and he did, Sandra Day O’Connor, and it was Donald Trump who announced that he was going to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a woman nominee as well,’ Durbin said, referring to Trump’s third appointment to the high court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
‘So this is not the first time that a president has signaled what they’re looking for in a nominee.’
The president vowed to put a black woman on the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer
In a pair of television interviews, the Senate Judiciary Chair defended Joe Biden trying to follow through on his campaign promise of appointing a black woman to the Supreme Court
Durbin claimed that any black woman who has reached the level to be considered for the high court has ‘done it against great odds.’
‘They’re extraordinary people, usually the first of anything in the United States turns out to be extraordinary in their background. And the same is true there,’ he said.
‘They’re all going to face the same close scrutiny. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, and I just hope that those who are critical of the president’s selection aren’t doing it for personal reasons.’
Breyer, 83, announced he was stepping down from the bench last week, after mounting pressure to retire so Biden could appoint a younger liberal in his place.
The president said he would use the opportunity to fulfill his campaign promise to appoint the first ever black female justice.
And whoever Biden picks will have to appear before Durbin’s panel for what’s sure to be a tense confirmation hearing.
Moderate GOP Senator Susan Collins, who is not on the panel but will be voting on whether to confirm the appointee along with her colleagues in the upper chamber, said she would ‘welcome’ a black woman on the court but claimed Biden was ‘politicizing’ the process.
‘I believe that diversity benefits the Supreme Court,’ Collins told ABC host George Stephanopoulos.
‘But the way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best. It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be.’
She also took issue with Durbin’s earlier comparison of Biden’s process to Reagan appointing Sandra Day O’Connor.
‘Actually, this isn’t exactly the same. I’ve looked at what was done in both cases. And what President Biden did was as a candidate, make this pledge. And that helped politicize the entire nomination process.
‘What President Reagan said is, as one of his Supreme Court justices, he would like to appoint a woman. And he appointed a highly qualified one in Sandra Day O’Connor.’
It appears a vast majority of Americans are on their side, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday.
The survey shows 76 percent of respondents preferring Biden ‘consider all possible nominees’ compared to just 23 percent who said they want him to ‘consider only nominees who are Black women, as he has pledged to do.’
Biden’s promise even failed to gain much traction among Democrat voters, 54 percent of whom said they wanted the president to find the best person for the role regardless of race. The number is even smaller among nonwhite voters, at 28 percent.
Federal judicial nominees need just a simply majority in the Senate to be confirmed to the bench, meaning Biden will either need every Democrat to vote in lock-step or court at least one Republican lawmaker.
It would be Biden’s first Supreme Court appointment. Donald Trump put three justices on the bench during his four-year term, giving the court a conservative supermajority